Now, I’m not referring to the FBI page (http://www.fbi.gov/mostwant/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm) that lists the ten criminals who are the Ten Most Wanted across USA and the world.
No! I’m talking about the ten targets that the terrorists most want to hit in USA. Which ones are they?
Tom Ridge and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – give them their due – are doing a great job keeping everybody advised about the current state of the color-coded alert system. To be fair, Homeland Security has an impossible task, and Gdubya hasn’t even coughed up the cash yet to fund DHS fully. If you visit the DHS web site (http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/), you can read a lot of fine speeches, but what you won’t get is their hit list of what they consider to be the terrorists’ Ten Most Wanted Targets…
Oh, there is a very long list of just about every conceivable edifice, building and icon (see particularly the list on page 21 of 96) of a PDF file here: http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Physical_Strategy.pdf, but the sum of that is this: Goddammit, everything’s gotta be defended. Which is true, of course, because you and I already knew that. In a way, it’s like your home: you’ll defend almost every bit of that against intruders, right? Well, so also the country…
Which doesn’t really answer the above question, now, does it?
So, let’s take a look at some of the targets that have been discussed in the media (I’m sure you’ve seen them listed or talked about, individually or collectively):
· The White House;
· The Capitol;
· The Pentagon;
· CIA at Langley;
· FBI at Quantico;
· The Brooklyn Bridge;
· The Golden Gate Bridge;
· The Statue of Liberty;
· The Lincoln Memorial; and
· LAX or O’Hare; take your pick.
Now, what do you really think? Do you think that Al-Qaeda et al will be gunning for one of those targets? Let me put it this way: if you were a terrorist, would you now attack any one of a collection of places that are now probably very heavily defended… at least more so than they were before 9/11?
Hey… the terrorists want death, that’s for sure, but they’re not stupid. They at least want a chance of getting through and creating havoc before the big kahuna.
So, let’s look at the situation from the terrorists’ point of view, instead. First, the terrorists will hit targets that deliver the most terror. That’s a no-brainer. Second, any smart terrorist will hit you when you ain’t looking and where you ain’t looking. And, third, they’ll hit targets that will achieve the maximum economic and personnel damage.
None of the targets, in the above list, fit those criteria… except maybe a major airport.
If you think I’m wrong about that, think back to September 11, 2001: two of the hijacked aircraft hit the biggest financial center in USA first.
However, back to The Ten Most Wanted…
When you think like a terrorist and consider how you can spread terror easily, in places that very few usually think about, and where the greatest loss of life and money is most likely, then this is what pops out:
· The largest hospitals and schools;
· The largest universities;
· The biggest and most visited amusement parks;
· The largest corporate and manufacturing centers;
· The biggest shopping malls (anytime of the year);
· The biggest parades (especially in winter);
· The biggest civil defense institutions, e.g. Homeland Security, CDC Atlanta, FEMA State offices and such like;
· The biggest stadiums, especially during play-offs and Super Bowl;
· The biggest and most crucial electrical power grids or water resources (especially in winter); and
· The biggest and most complex freeway and railroad interchanges (again, in winter and during peak hours).
The most compelling aspect about all of those places is that most are all big draw cards for large crowds of people like you and me, and all are integral – arguably crucial — aspects of the modern, technocratic consumer society. A massive terrorist strike on any of them would have a catastrophic ripple effect throughout similar institutions or places and, by extension, the whole economy. For example, if a large and busy freeway interchange was attacked and destroyed at rush hour, what would be the effect on freeway usage, traffic patterns, commuter confidence and road rage, to name just a few aspects?
So, what’s the current level of security in any of those areas? What defensive measures are in place to help identify and stop terrorist attack? Well, wherever you are, wherever you live and love – take a good look around and assess for yourself. And believe what you see before you swallow any government news release that tells you that you’re safer now than before 9/11.
Recall that only a relatively few people seriously considered that terrorists would use aircraft to crash into the WTC.
Hence, in another scenario, what would it take to crash a tanker-truck, full of gasoline and TNT, into your local high school or hospital? Or ten, all on the same day, in ten different cities with a coordinated attack?
Do you remember the terror of Oklahoma City, and Columbine? And, who can forget the carnage at Beslan, in Northern Ossetia earlier this month, with over 330 confirmed dead and 200 still missing?
Here’s a thought for today, and maybe everyday: Think like a terrorist to stop a terrorist.